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Behind The Scenes: ’12 Years a Slave’

“12 Years a Slave” is up for a whopping nine Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Best Director for Steve McQueen, and Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o

The Oscar-nominated flick was filmed in various locations in Hollywood South in 2012 including Lake Pontchartrain and Destrehan Plantation.  The majority of the film was shot at Felicite Plantation, which is the sister plantation to St. Joseph Plantation in Vacherie.

“You can feel the energy here, from the trees, plants, and spirits still here.  The plantation would give us the most of what we needed for the main character.  Such a marvelous place,”  Gerard Sellers, Location Manager for “12 Years a Slave”, said.

“12 Years a Slave” is set on a Louisiana plantation in the 1800’s.  It’s based on Solomon Northup’s biography about his horrifying experiences as a once free man, sold into slavery.

Detail was important for Sellers and his crew.  John Collins helped run day to day operations and worked closely with Brad Pitt.

“The one driving engine in making this a success is Brad Pitt and I don’t think people should forget that,”  Collins said.

A key scene between Pitt and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character, Solomon took place in a gazebo, which was built exclusively for the movie.

“This is the part of the movie where hope came in and when Solomon found his one ally.  This is where he got his freedom,”  Collins said.

Felicite Plantation was definitely more than a backdrop.  It’s a 3-mile stretch of land, which became a silent character of it’s own.

“That spirit has carried over to the success of the movie,” Sellers said.

The mansion on property was built in 1847.

Tune into the 86th annual Academy Awards on WGNO this Sunday.